The pandemic has me afraid. Like everybody else, I have vulnerable family members who could be killed by the Coronavirus. Hell, I may even turn out to be one of the 0.6 percent of healthy people under 80 who succumb to the bug. What has me much more afraid than the virus itself though is the damage which will be caused by a protracted world panic response to the pandemic.
We are barely into a week of business shutdowns and self-quarantine measures and we can already see the massive cracks forming both socially and economically. It is nothing less than utter madness to think that we could withstand months of this kind of state yet many folks are calling for just that. It simply isn’t reasonable and the cure in that case will indeed be far worse than the disease.
The vapid calls for government to pay for everything come whenever anybody dares to question the economic impact of an indefinite shutdown and quarantine. These calls come from the economically illiterate and if they haven’t learned economic reality by now, they never will. Its time to ignore them.
Let’s follow the progression of thought for these types to the inevitable conclusion.
The people calling for government to simply pay for everything usually claim that they are doing so for the sake of our most financially vulnerable at this time of crisis.
Our most financially vulnerable are a large segment of the population, especially since the oil and gas industry cratered years ago. It has been noted many times how a huge number of people are only one or two paychecks away from insolvency. Well, a week into the shutdown and those people are already screwed. Many worked in the hospitality, tourism or energy sectors. They are facing potential homelessness already and the stress is incalculable.
The vacuous voices call out “Let them live rent free! Ban landlords from evicting them!”
OK, I sure don’t want to see people kicked out on the street by any measure but landlords can’t live for free any more than their tenants can. Contrary to popular leftist belief, most landlords aren’t filthy rich, moustache tweaking industrialists who swim in money bins. They are folks who invested their earnings in real estate who rely on a return from it in order to put food on their tables and pay the bills too.
Then the mindless calls come for the banks to forego collecting mortgage payments.
Yes, I understand that banks make a lot of money and few people hold love for them. That said, when it comes to banks their wealth truly is based on pure numbers and it won’t take much or long to put them in a losing position if they can’t collect on loans. They are an integral part of the fabric of our already decimated economy and if they go down the damage to us all will be cataclysmic.
Never short on answers, the fatuous will say “government can cover the cost!”
This inevitably is the fallback line for the folks suffering from economic illiteracy.
“The government” is us. There is only one taxpayer and the taxpayer is broke. The government produces nothing material and all they can do is shift resources around. Right now there aren’t a hell of a lot of resources to shift.
“Government can borrow!” are the cries of the idiotic in light of this.
I won’t go into detail but folks are more than welcome to google “hyperinflation” to see what happens when a government tries to borrow itself out of a hole when the economy has crashed.
Yes, government will be able to offer every Canadian weekly cheques during the crisis. Unfortunately a loaf of bread will cost $100 if you can find it. The only thing which may come down in price in such a situation will be real estate as the hundreds of thousands of foreclosures take effect.
The dystopian hell I am describing is not fictional. It is well on its way if we try to shut down our economy for months.
The last call of the moronic in this kind of situation is “If it saves but one life! How can you put a price on a human life!”
Well buttercup, whether you like it or not we put a price on human life every day. If we lowered highway speed limits to 20kph we would save lives. If we had a registered nurse in every household we would save lives. If we had a fire station on every street corner we would save lives.
Why don’t we then?
Because we can’t afford to. We had to choose and find a balance between economic reality and the number of lives being put at risk. We have that choice before us again and on a level we have never seen before.
There are a million things that the government needs to do right now and I don’t envy decision makers. They need mitigation plans, health care allocation plans, legislative plans and law enforcement plans.
One plan we aren’t hearing yet though is the plan to get out of this economic shutdown. This indeterminate end to shutting in society is adding to the economic and social damage which has already been wrought. We need to see where this tunnel ends and soon or we will see chaos.
Poverty takes lives just as effectively as any virus will. Suicides will spike and crime waves will ensue if we don’t change this course soon. Food riots may become a reality as supply chains falter. You think hoarding is bad now? Just wait a few more weeks if we don’t see a possible end to this seclusion.
We are a soft and spoiled society. We don’t know how to survive without supply chains and we don’t have the means to feed and cloth urban populations with out them.
We need to demand many things from our leaders right now. One that is critical though is to demand a timeline. It will only get worse for putting it off.